So this is one of my secrets to getting better. My entire life changed the day I began to apply this simple (and free) prescription. Of course, after first hearing this from a wise friend at the age of 19, I first wasted another 10 years cowering and more or less paralyzed by self-consciousness and insecurity. When the going got tough, Charlie ran the other way. Don’t do that.
I spent the first 28 years of my life crippled by fear, and I’ve learned that the only way to conquer it is to literally walk right into it… and then right through it. Do the very things we fear. If we fear public speaking, speak publicly. If we fear intimacy, be intimate. If we fear what we have done to someone in the past, find that person and make a direct amends to him or her.
Contrary to popular belief, recovering from addiction is all about growing up. It’s not about avoiding triggers and talking in individual or group therapy about your family or your feelings. It’s not about taking more drugs or injecting yourself with some science project that makes you sick when you drink or use. Sorry, but nope. It’s not the drugs and alcohol we need to address, it’s ourselves. It’s addressing the condition of being, for lack of a better term, a man-child. It’s about addressing the ridiculous belief addicts have that life is about us feeling good 24/7, and that it is our right to do anything it takes to maintain our comfort even if that comes at the expense of others.
And if you want to grow up in lightening speed, go make some amends. Coming out of a tough amends to someone, I was a different person than going in. To walk right into shame, to feel that sort of humility, to sweat through the ass of my pants from nervousness, to speak honestly about how I’ve wronged you… this will change anybody, unless of course, you are a sociopath and lack the capacity to be honest. In that case, there isn’t much hope. But anyone who can be honest with themselves can change, heal, grow and recover.
My feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity used to be so strong, they paralyzed me. I didn’t have the guts to face the world, to do what I needed to do. But the moment I begin to push myself and do what I need to do regardless of how shitty I feel, that’s when I start getting better. Do what you fear and that which you fear loses power. It becomes easier and easier. Now I run, not walk towards any opportunity to speak publicly if it might help or inspire people. I’ve actually come to enjoy it. The bigger the crowd, the better.
Have you ever had a nasty cold or something and then had to teach, speak, lead, or be of some service to others? What happens when you start giving of yourself? I had the flu one time when I had to guest speak at a sober house late in the evening. The second I opened my mouth, the flu was gone… and gone it stayed until I was driving home. Giving of ourselves when we don’t feel like it is pure magic. And it turns a man-child into a man.
God, please give me the courage and the power to walk right into my fear…